Barefoot Cardio

Ellen Barrett
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I had this workout shortly after it came out and gave it up because of some of the repetitive moves. Then, I reacquired it and will keep it this time, because I've learned to modify it so that it works for me.

Ellen is in a bright open studio, backed up by two exercisers, one of whom is the modifier. This workout is comprised of several long combinations during which you do moves on one side and then the other with additional moves thrown in. You are supposed to do it barefoot - sometimes I do, sometimes I wear shoes.

I really like the combinations and I find that I really enjoy the moves that she does. My heartrate gets up there some, but it is not an intense workout. The two things that I don't enjoy about the workout are the happy feet/ponies (there are a LOT of them) and how much you hold your arms outstretched (most of the workout). So, I have learned to modify. I just do side steps while they do happy feet/ponies - this is kinder to my knees. And, I put my arms down during moves I don't feel like I need them. I either have my arms by my sides or my hands on my hips.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is in a class by herself, I think. Beyond the encouragement she does to do the workout, she so believes in the mind/body workout method. It's hard not to get caught up in her enthusiasm.

Laura S.


I love this workout for a variety of reasons, one of them being that I find sneakers restrictive. Her low intense moves make it easy to sweat and stay involved in the workout. I hate workouts that focus solely on overworking you. I find that low intensity workouts are great for keeping up endurance , keeping away from torn muscles and ligaments and also keeping up with every day activity. I find this workout peaceful, comfortable and easy to follow. Her cues are often on time and the CONSTANT arm movement had me going OW, which is how I know my muscles are working. I like that she doesn't keep telling you to keep going. I really find that belittling when instructors do that. She motivates by moving into the next routine and explaining it thoroughly so that there would be no reason to give up or turn it off. Her moves are original and upbeat and I would gladly do them over and over again.

Instructor Comments:
She is upbeat and easy to follow. Her voice is less shrill than others which makes it easy to listen too.



I just did this workout for the first time, and I was very impressed. I tend to be very finicky about workouts, and I don't like doing cardio at home, so this is saying a lot. This workout delivered everything I was hoping for: heart-pumping low impact cardio that I was able to follow even with my two left feet. What impressed me the most is that it did not make me dizzy like so many cardio workouts that involve a lot of head movements, and the movements flowed and were not jerky. I enjoyed being barefoot and it helped me to stay cool. I also like that several of the arm movements doubled as stretches for the shoulders and back that spend so much time hunched over at the office or in other aspects of daily life. Note: this is a particularly good workout for apartment dwellers like me who have downstairs neighbors, because the absence of shoes and high impact make the WO quieter.

Instructor Comments:
I really like Ellen Barrett. Aside from some make-up (which brings out her truly stunning facial features), she has an all-natural-healthy-woman kind of look and attitude that most women will be able to relate to. She's not too hyper and she's not too low key. She has a very pleasant, likable personality, and she does a great job of explaining the moves and what they accomplish. Her emphasis is on getting strong, counter-acting stress, and feeling good, along with burning fat. I love that I don't think she mentioned "weight loss" even once during the WO. I would definitely purchase another Ellen Barrett WO.



This was my first Ellen Barrett video. I had been going to the gym for years and hadn't worked out at home much so I was pleasantly surprised by how many options there are now. I really enjoyed this workout which is deceptively difficult (if you just watch it, it probably won't seem challenging.) Ellen gives lots of form advice to make it harder--mainly Pilates based stuff like standing up straight, tightening your quads and holding in your abs. I have a tendency to slouch and never realized the collection of muscles engaged in a simple knee raise until done with correct posture. The ballet moves also make me feel very graceful.

I am kind of over the notion of hot, inflexible aerobic shoes so I really enjoy any workout I can do barefoot. On this one, Ellen points out the benefits of doing the moves barefoot (that's the only way to do a proper releve-the ballet move where you rise up to your toes.) There is some good balance work. She also has an exerciser demonstrating modified versions of the moves for people who can't do high impact or have back problems. Nothing is terribly high impact on this DVD though. At most there is a modified pony type of move she does as a transition between exercises to keep your heart rate up. I have cartilage damage to both knees (chondromalacia if you want to get all technical) so I can't do high impact any more but I didn't have trouble with anything on this DVD. I was surprised by how sweaty I was at the end.

I liked her reminding me to lower my shoulders (another thing slouchers do) and reminding me to enjoy the workout. It sounds silly but I like a smidgen of mind/body woo in my exercise. Don't worry-she doesn't start talking about The Secret or anything. And you don't need a lot of space which I appreciate. You can do this in an average living room without moving large pieces of furniture.

My only complaint might be that she gives the advice for proper form sometimes when you are already in the middle of an exercise so you'll need to do the workout a few times to learn and remember how to maximize some of the moves. I much prefer that however to workouts that continually come to a stop so the instructor can explain how they want you to do the next exercise. I just would prefer to get the critical form advice as the move is starting. Overall, this is a keeper. I ordered several more of her DVD's (do try to preview before you buy though. Some of them seem quite similar.)

Instructor Comments:
An upbeat (but not caffeinated and perky) instructor who provides good cuing and excellent form advice. You should check her out, particularly if you enjoy pilates, dance and/or yoga.



I am reviewing this workout after having done it twice in the past week. Barefoot Cardio by Ellen Barrett is a fun, low impact, cardio workout. Ellen is an engaging and affable instructor. This workout is one of the ones that makes me ask "Why did I wait so long?"

What I enjoy most about this workout is that I can get my heart pumping without too much effort or impact. Ellen strings together a few moves on the right side and then repeats the moves on the left side. Then between each combo she does her signature 'happy feet' move from other workouts which is a plie squat out to the side and then feet together. But in Barefoot Cardio, you can do happy feet or step it up a notch and do ponies (a sort of triple step side to side). Returning to the pony move between each combo might irritate some, but I don't mind it. I guess I like the idea that a new combo is coming.

One detraction for me in Barefoot Cardio is the amount of instruction. Ellen is a friendly instructor but if I'm going to keep this workout, I'm going to learn the moves better and turn down the volume. After about a half hour, it's just too much of a good thing.

If you are deciding on whether or not to get this workout, don't let the amount of talking be the deciding factor. Barefoot Cardio is a great workout. An advanced exerciser can use it on a light day, a beginning exerciser can use it any time and an intermediate exerciser can modify it by taking the moves up a notch.

Instructor Comments:
Ellen is great. I love that she designs her workouts to make exercise accessible to everyone. She is inspiring.